Sometimes referred to as “white Barolo,” Arneis is a somewhat rare varietal from Piedmont’s Langhe region in northwest Italy. Fontanafredda is one of Piedmont’s larger wineries and their unoaked version of Arneis is light and luscious and nicely off dry. Exotic aromatics are followed by pears, honey, apricot, melon, and pineapple on the palate. Impressive as an aperitif, it is ideal with lighter fish dishes, risotto, and pasta. This mouth-filling wine, crisp and supple and long in the finish, is well worth $23.
My favourite contact in the Fairfield LDB store was justifiably singing the praises of Quid Pro Quo, a handsome blended red from Portugal that sells for $18.50. Made by the Casa Santos Lima wine conglomerate, this smooth and nearly full-bodied mix of Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz, Syrah, and Alicante Bouschet is all about ripe dark fruit and delicious spice notes. Deeply coloured and effortlessly elegant, this is a charmer with a bit of cellaring potential. Pairs well with barbeque or hard cheeses.
Due east a few hundred kilometers brings us to the El Tocador winery in central Spain, whose “old vines” Tempranillo was rated a best-buy by Wine Enthusiast. This deeply coloured and aromatic red has flavours of blackberries and black cherries, plus hints of oak, herbs, and spice. Bold, tannic, and dry, this is definitely a food wine – try it with a garlicky hamburger, spicy merguez sausages, or well-marinated barbeque. There should be more complexity from those “old vines” but it’s fairly priced at $18.50.
Most people love a juicy Cabernet Sauvignon from California, and Bread & Butter Winery makes a particularly good one for $27.50. Ripe and expressive, here’s an aromatic and full-bodied fruit bomb from Napa that is round in the mouth and bursting with flavours of cassis, mocha, and plum. Silky, complex, and offering a long and luxuriant finish, this would be fantastic with everything from an inch-thick striploin to ribs dripping with barbecue sauce. Good value, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. (All prices include tax.)
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